Paintbrush of Choice

masterpiece

There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven: a time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to tear down and a time to build; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance; a time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace and a time to avoid embracing; a time to search and a time to count as lost; a time to keep and a time to throw away; a time to tear and a time to sew; a time to be silent and a time to speak; a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

Ponder It.
What is one habit you don’t think you could live without?
What is one habit you’d like to form?
In general, do your habits tend to take you closer to or away from God?

Receive It.
Different projects call for different paintbrushes. Just because something works for one purpose or time doesn’t mean it is always the best option. When I was painting a mural as a service project, the artist handed me an awkwardly large paintbrush with bristles falling out with every stroke. I was supposed to use it on a rather small area with lots of curving lines. It didn’t take long for me to change brushes.

We can get into ruts of doing the same things over and over until we cease to be as effective as we can (and should) be. Let’s set aside all the bad habits and just consider the good ones…at least, the ones that started off as good. They, too, can become ruts. Our motivation is well-intended, but that original motivation is soon replaced with a “status quo.” We experienced the benefits of developing the habit, so we decide keeping the habit will continue to reap benefits. That’s not necessarily the case. Perhaps you got involved in a Bible study. That’s a good thing to do. But if, a decade later, you refuse to miss a meeting even when something important comes up because “I always go,” your “good habit” might be getting of the way of spiritual maturity. In fact, perhaps you can discriminate between what is helpful and what is not by drawing a line between a discipline and habit. Habits can become ruts. Discipline is intentional. Habits may become counter-productive. Discipline spurs growth. Habits rely on the same tool (like a paintbrush) over and over, regardless if that tool wears out or isn’t suited to a changing purpose. Discipline assesses each step along the way so that the right tool is always used for the right project. So, take a moment to reflect on your life: Are you habitual or disciplined?

Live It.
Set your phone alarm to go off several times throughout the day. When the alarm sounds, take a moment and consider what you’re currently doing and why. Are you doing what you always do, trusting God to guide you, going through the motions, or wasting time?

 

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